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‘Pickling’ is essentially the process of soaking any vegetable in a brine of vinegar, salt, and water.
Pickled vegetables and their juice have become a staple in many cultures, enjoyed by millions around the globe. And as legend has it, pickles (the kind made from cucumbers) and ice cream are a combination commonly craved by pregnant women. Pickles are renowned for their heartiness and delicious taste, but is drinking pickle juice good for you?
In this article, we’ll be discussing whether the pickle juice from a pickled cucumber is good for you. First, we cover a little pickling history then discuss its nutritional content and benefit.
The History of Pickles
It’s believed that pickling dates back more than 4,000 years to Mesopotamia. As a preservation method, Mesopotamians soaked cucumbers in acidic brine and found the outcome tasty.
Over the centuries, claims of consuming pickled vegetables to preserve beauty became popular; it was one of Cleopatra’s prized beauty secrets. Julius Caesar swore by them and gave them to his troops to fill them up and build their strength. And in many cultures, it formed part of a family’s food source during cold winter months.
Pickles were first brought to America by Christopher Columbus. He and other travelers loved them due to their ability to survive long journeys. Centuries later, Heinz Company Inc. cornered the pickled vegetable market in the 19th century. By the 2010s, Americans were eating more than 2 million pounds of pickles each year.
What Happens During the Pickling Process?
Pickling happens when a fresh fruit or vegetable is immersed in saltwater brine or acidic liquid until it’s no longer susceptible to decay. For example, pickled cucumbers are frequently lacto-fermented in saltwater brine. During this process, lactic microbial organisms grow, turning the organically occurring sugars of the food into lactic acid.
Pickled cucumbers are commonly prepared with vinegar and salt brine. The brine is known as ‘pickle juice’ and has many health benefits.
Is Drinking Pickle Juice Good for You?
Functional medicine dietitian Camille Skoda says that pickle juice does have some health benefits, though it depends on the type of pickle juice and the health benefit you wish to gain. However, added preservatives and dyes will deplete the benefits pickle juice could offer.
Pickle juice recipes will differ between manufacturers. Therefore, a precise breakdown of the nutritional content per glass of pickle juice is complex. However, the following estimated nutrient measurements are based on 3.5 ounces.
- Calcium: 1-5% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI)
- Carbohydrates: 0.4 grams
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI
- Potassium: 3% of the RDI
- Sodium: 50-115% of the RDI
The minerals and vitamins in pickle juice again depend on the manufacturer and recipe. The most typical nutrients found are potassium and sodium. The juice also contains small amounts of fiber and protein.
Next, we’ll discuss eight of the potential health benefits and some potential risks.
Naturally fermented pickles and the juice include supportive microorganisms called probiotics. Probiotics are live yeasts, and microscopic bacteria also found in:
Your gut has tons of bacteria that aid metabolism, digestion, immunity, and overall health. Probiotics help to keep your good gut bacteria balanced.
Probiotics can be found in non-vinegar-based refrigerated pickles, fermented naturally in water with salt and spices. If you’re drinking pickle juice to gain the probiotic benefits, remember we all tolerate probiotics differently, so start with a small amount.
Helps With Exercise Recovery
Electrolytes help to maintain your body fluid balance and help to keep everything in working order. However, when you sweat during exercise, you risk losing too many electrolytes. But never fear because pickle juice is here. It contains the electrolytes sodium, potassium, and magnesium; therefore, it can be used as a natural electrolyte to rehydrate you after exercise.
However, using pickle juice as a suitable recovery drink won’t be for everyone. The daily recommended amount of sodium is no more than 2,300 milligrams. Depending on the brand, 3 ounces of pickle juice equates to 900 milligrams.
Drinking pickle juice as an electrolyte could work well for those requiring more sodium in their diets. For the most benefit, use vinegar-based pickles without preservatives and yellow dye.
Can Help With Blood Sugar Regulation
Vinegar is well-known for supporting healthy blood sugar. In addition, researchers have shown that frozen pickle juice consumed during mealtimes may prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar.
May Support Weight Loss
Pickle juice could help curb your appetite. It does this by stabilizing your blood sugar. When your blood sugar is stable, it’s easier to control your appetite. If you’re consuming pickle juice for probiotic benefits, improving your metabolism and digestion can help you lose weight.
Muscle Cramp Relief
A study of 10 participants showed a considerable reduction in the duration of muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice compared with deionized water.
Also, pickle juice's high sodium content may help curb salty food cravings sometimes experienced during or before a menstrual period.
May Help to Overcome Hangover Symptoms
Drinking a lot of alcohol can dehydrate you. Pickle juice electrolytes can be used as a hangover cure to rehydrate you. And the salt content of pickle juice may encourage one to drink more water.
Can Soothe Sunburn
Some people apply pickle juice directly onto their sunburned skin or place a pickle juice-soaked piece of cotton onto the affected area. There is no scientific research into this effectiveness; however, it is still a fairly popular remedy. However, Aloe vera gel might help soothe a burn.
Pickles Contain Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
Pickled juice will contain some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from the cucumber or other pickled veggies.
Antioxidants can protect your cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules linked to heart disease, cancer, and other complaints. Though you can get antioxidants from pickle juice, the true benefit is found in eating the pickle itself.
Potential Risks of Pickle Juice
While pickle juice offers some health benefits, it can also present some risks.
Most pickle juice risk is connected to its very high levels of sodium.
People who have or are at risk of having high blood pressure should avoid pickle juice. Diets high in sodium are commonly recognized to raise blood pressure.
Aggravating Stomach Ulcers
For a person with stomach ulcers consuming highly acidic foods like pickle juice can cause discomfort and pain.
Pickle Juice Pros and Cons
The briny goodness of pickled vegetables has been enjoyed for centuries. Some of the ancient rumored benefits include preserving beauty and making troops strong before battle. Today, we’ve found it provides us with essential antioxidants and probiotics and reducing the effect of a hangover and muscle cramps. While it is not a cure-all, it can form part of a healthy eating plan.
Pickle juice is popular with those following the ketogenic diet because it is said to help relieve some of the symptoms of the keto flu. The pickle juice helps with hydration and provides electrolytes as well as antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients.
However, pickle juice does have high sodium content; therefore, it should be consumed in moderation. In addition, it should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or stomach ulcers.
We hope we’ve answered your questions on whether drinking pickle juice is good for you. Bon Appetit.